Thanks to Abu Elvis, ACT for America, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Fausta, Fjordman, Henrik, Insubria, JD, KGS, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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Another Weatherman Terrorist a Player in Obama Campaign
Communists, socialists, anarchists also part of political organization
JERUSALEM — One of the main founders of the Weathermen terrorist organization is a signatory to an independent organization acting to ensure the election of Sen. Barack Obama, WND has learned.
The group in question, Progressives for Obama, also includes among its ranks many former members of the 1960s radical organization Students for a Democratic Society, from which the Weathermen splintered, as well as current and former members of other radical organizations, such as the Communist Party USA and the Black Radical Congress.
In its creed, first published in March in the Nation magazine, the Progressives for Obama founders state their organization descended from the “proud tradition of independent social movements that have made America a more just and democratic country.”
Progressives for Obama stated it can help the Illinois senator’s ascent to highest office by contributing funds, using the Internet to reach “millions of swing voters;” defending Obama against negative attacks and making its agenda known at the Democratic National Convention.
“Progressives can make a difference in close primary races like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon and Puerto Rico, and in the November general election,” the founders state.
Federal Responses to Market Turmoil
Statement of Peter R. Orszag, Director, before the Committee on the Budget U.S. House of Representatives
September 24, 2008
Chairman Spratt, Ranking Member Ryan, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify this morning on the budgetary and economic implications of the recent turmoil in financial markets and the Administration’s proposal to address it.
Since August 2007, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have been attempting to address a series of severe breakdowns in financial markets that emanated from the bursting of the housing bubble, leading to substantial losses on mortgage-related securities and great difficulty in accurately ascertaining the financial condition of the institutions holding such securities. Those problems generated significant increases in risk spreads (or the interest rates charged on risky assets relative to Treasury securities) but, more important, contributed to a broader collapse of confidence, with the result that financial institutions became increasingly unwilling to lend to one another.
Over the past several weeks, the collapse of confidence in financial markets has become particularly severe. Short-term loans between financial institutions have fallen off sharply. Instead, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve have become the financial intermediaries for them. In other words, rather than financial institutions with excess money lending to institutions needing short-term funding, many institutions with excess short-term money have purchased Treasury securities, the Treasury has placed the proceeds on deposit at the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Reserve has then lent the money out to those institutions needing short-run funding.
Thus far, turmoil in the financial markets has had less impact on macroeconomic activity than may have been expected, and, indeed, economic growth was relatively strong in the second quarter of this year—in part because of the stimulus package enacted earlier this year. A modern economy like the United States’, however, depends crucially on the functioning of its financial markets to allocate capital, and history suggests that the real economy typically slows some time after a downturn in financial markets. Moreover, ominous signs about credit difficulties are accumulating. The issuance of corporate debt plummeted in the third quarter, and the short-term commercial paper market has also been hit hard. Bank lending, which has thus far remained relatively strong, will undoubtedly be severely curtailed by the difficulties that banks are facing in raising capital. Such a curtailment of credit means that businesses and individuals will find it increasingly difficult to borrow money to carry out their normal activities. In sum, the problems occurring in financial markets raise the possibility of a severe credit crunch, which could have devastating effects on the U.S. and world economies.
To mitigate the risks, the Department of the Treasury has proposed the Troubled Asset Relief Act of 2008, and similar proposals have also been put forward by the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. In an analysis of these proposals, it is useful to identify two problems facing financial markets: illiquidity triggered by market panic and the potential insolvency of many financial institutions.
One problem is that the markets for some types of assets and transactions have essentially stopped functioning. To address that problem, the government could conceivably intervene as a “market maker,” by offering to purchase assets through a competitive process and thereby provide a price signal to other market participants. (That type of intervention, if designed carefully to keep the government from overpaying, might not involve any significant subsidy from the government to financial institutions.) The second problem, though, involves the potential insolvency of specific financial institutions. By some estimates, global commercial banks and investment banks may need to raise a minimum of roughly $150 billion more to cover their losses. As of mid-September 2008, cumulative recognized losses stood at about $520 billion, while the institutions had raised $370 billion of additional capital.1 Restoring solvency to insolvent institutions requires additional capital injections, and one possible source of such capital is the federal government.
Those two problems are related in the sense that it is difficult to know which institutions are insolvent without being able to value the assets they hold (which in turn is impeded by illiquid markets). Undisclosed losses are unlikely to be distributed uniformly throughout the financial system, and the inability to identify which institutions are carrying the largest losses has led to a breakdown of trust in the entire financial sector.2 That loss of trust has sharply increased the cost of raising capital and rolling over debt, which threatens the solvency of all financial institutions. Injecting more capital into financial institutions could help to restore liquidity to some financial markets, because, with larger cushions of capital to protect against default, the institutions would be more willing to lend to one another. Another linkage between these two problems could occur if some institutions are unwilling to sell assets at current market prices if that then triggered the recognition of accounting losses; such reluctance to sell can contribute to illiquid markets. With additional equity, those institutions may be more willing to sell at current market prices even if that required recognizing losses.
Although the problems of illiquidity and insolvency are interrelated, they are at least conceptually distinct. Indeed, some policy proposals appear to be aimed primarily at the illiquidity of particular asset markets, and others appear to be aimed primarily at the potential insolvency of specific financial institutions.
Most of this testimony examines the Troubled Asset Relief Act of 2008. That act appears to be motivated primarily by concerns about illiquid markets. The more the government overpays for assets purchased under that act, however, the more the proposed program would instead provide a subsidy to specific financial institutions, in a manner that seems unlikely to be an efficient approach to addressing concerns about insolvency.
British Identity Cards Will be Covered in EU Symbols
Britain’s first identity card in more than half a century was unveiled yesterday — and turned out to be covered in EU symbols to satisfy Brussels.
The plastic card, which will be issued to foreign citizens in Britain starting in November, marks the first stage in the Government’s ambitious scheme to issue biometric ID cards to all UK residents at a cost of billions of pounds.
But serious questions remain over whether the system will work or bring any practical benefits, and doubts were underlined yesterday as the Conservatives pledged to scrap the entire venture if they win the next General Election.
Cologne: 2 Terrorist Suspects Arrested on KLM Flight
COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — German police boarded a plane at Cologne airport and arrested two terrorist suspects Friday just before the plane took off for Amsterdam.
A 23-year-old Somali man and a 24-year-old German man born in Somalia were arrested before the KLM flight left the airport, a spokeswoman for North Rhine-Westphalia state police said.
Police spokeswoman Katharina Breuer told The Associated Press that officers boarded the plane at 6:55 a.m. (0455 GMT) and arrested the men without incident. She said authorities do not think the men planned to abduct the flight.
Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper, citing police sources, said the men had been under observation for months and a suicide note was found in their apartment saying that they wanted to die for the “jihad” or “holy war.”
Breuer would not disclose how authorities knew the men would be on board.
A KLM spokeswoman told NOS news in the Netherlands that police boarded the Fokker 50 jet when it was at its “point of departure” and grabbed the two suspects. She said all other passengers aboard KLM Flight 1804 were then forced to leave the plane.
“Then a ‘baggage parade’ took place to see if the two passengers who were taken by the police had bags with them,” the spokeswoman said.
She said the plane took off after an hour delay and landed at Schipol airport in the Netherlands without further incident.
The Dutch anti-terror chief warned earlier this month that the country remains one of the top targets for Islamic terrorist groups because of publicity surrounding a lawmaker’s anti-Islam film.
The National Coordinator for Combating Terrorism said in a report the film “Fitna” by lawmaker Geert Wilders has made the country a “preferred target.” Fitna set Koranic texts against a background of violent images, which the agency said “is considered a major insult and provocation” by terrorist groups.
The terrorist threat has been rated as “substantial” since the film’s launch in March.
Frank Wallenta, a spokesman for federal prosecutors in Germany, said the arrests in Cologne were not related to an announcement Thursday that two men linked to terrorist suspects may be on their way back to Germany.
On Thursday, prosecutors announced that Eric Breininger, 21, and Houssain Al Malla, 23 could be headed to Germany after leaving a terrorist training camp in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The men are linked to a foiled plot to attack American targets in Germany in 2007.
German Bishops Back “Dignified” Mosques
Entering a growing controversy about the building of a mosque in Cologne, Germany’s Catholic bishops affirmed Friday the right of Muslims to build “dignified” houses of worship in German cities.
But in compromise wording that reflected differences among the bishops, they added that they disapproved of mosques “being abused as expressions of power hunger, rivalry or aggressive interaction.”
Despite supporting the building of mosques, the bishops said Muslim communities should try to consider local residents when seeking to establish places of worship.
The bishops were meeting as part of their annual autumn plenary assembly in the city of Fulda, Hesse.
The assembly went on to condemn any attempts, political or not, to arouse an anti-Islamic sentiment within Germany. “Criticism is permitted, agitation is not,” stressed the chairman of the assembly, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch.
He said the matter came down to the right to freedom of worship, but added that mosque designs should be adapted to their surroundings and should try to meet the “justifiable concerns” of neighbours.
Italy-Libya: S. Craxi Expresses Positive Opinion on Treaty
(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 23 — Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Stefania Craxi, believes the agreement signed between Italy and Libya deserves a “positive judgement”. Undersecretary Craxi said in an interview with Popoli weekly that the treaty marks “a turn in the relations between the two countries. I think that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is right in saying that it was a historic signing. This treaty of friendship, partnership and cooperation finally closes the difficult and decades-long dispute on the colonial past and opens a new phase in the relations between Italy and Libya. The two countries decided to cooperate in favour of peace, security and stability in the Mediterranean region.” Stefania Craxi recalls that “the agreement on immigration already existed, but Libya has never implemented it. Thus the debarkations on the Italian coasts have increased in the last months: in July and August 3,000 people arrived on the coasts of Lampedusa, while their number is 12,500 in the first seven months of the year. Is Libya reliable? I believe that the only way for Tripoli to respects the rights of the immigrants is the collaboration: we and Libya must be in a constant dialogue and must exchange our experience.” (ANSAmed).
‘Laissez-Faire’ Capitalism is Finished, Says France
Both France and Germany on Thursday (25 September) said the current financial crisis would leave important marks on the world economy, with French president Nicolas Sarkozy declaring that the under-regulated system we once knew is now “finished,” and German finance minister Peer Steinbruck saying the crisis marks the beginning of a multi-polar world, where the US is no longer a superpower.
“The all-powerful market that always knows best is finished,” says France’s president (Photo: European Parliament — Audiovisual Unit)
Speaking to an audience of some 4,000 supporters in Toulon, France, Mr Sarkozy said the financial turmoil had highlighted the need to re-invent capitalism with a strong dose of morality, as well as to put in place a better regulatory system.
“The idea of the all-powerful market that must not be constrained by any rules, by any political intervention, was mad. The idea that markets were always right was mad,” Mr Sarkozy said.
“The present crisis must incite us to refound capitalism on the basis of ethics and work … Self-regulation as a way of solving all problems is finished. Laissez-faire is finished. The all-powerful market that always knows best is finished,” he added.
He accused “this system that allows the ones responsible for a disaster to leave with a golden parachute” of having “increased inequality, demoralised the middle classes and fed [market] speculation.”
Neo Nazi Thugs Cause Residents to Flee Homes
Terrified residents fled their homes in tears after more than 800 neo-Nazi skin heads stormed a local family-friendly music and motor show.
The white supremists wreaked havoc, urinating over residents’ cars and threatening anyone who dared intervene with ‘absolute violence’.
Swigging beer and whiskey, they marched the streets in leather jackets and army boots, draped in swastika flags and chanting racist slogans, to the horror of onlookers.
The violent thugs, clad in army boots and leather jackets, shouted ‘Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil’ — a nazi WWII chant meaning ‘hail victory’.
The Gooding family were forced to flee their home in terror when over 800 neo-Nazi violent thugs descended on their neighbourhood
Mother-of-two Sarah Gooding, 39, who recorded the destruction in Redhill, North Somerset, on video, broke down in tears yesterday as she re-lived the terror that took place.
She said: ‘My daughter was petrified, I was terrified and so was my husband. We ran into the house and I burst into tears and said to my husband ‘we’ve got to go, I don’t feel safe’.
Mrs Gooding was forced to grab her daughters and flee their semi-detached four-bedroom cottage for fear of their lives.
‘Our daughters were really, really frightened,’ she said. ‘They were in tears as we were packing our bags to flee. ‘I just can’t stop crying as I think back to how bad it was — it was like a miniature Nuremberg rally full of thugs.’
Reports of Routine Swedish Racism ‘Grossly Exaggerated’
While immigrants can find it difficult to establish a foothold on the job market in Sweden, politicians, intellectuals and the media are often too quick to make employment a race issue, writes Nima Sanandaji.
Listening to media, politicians and intellectuals one gets a sense that racism, overt and casual, more or less defines daily life in Sweden. But as it turns out, the case for racism is routinely overstated. And perhaps more importantly, exaggerating this social problem can in itself hinder integration.
Recently Aleksander Gabelic, Member of Parliament for the Social Democrats and President of the United Nations Association of Sweden, demanded in a debate article that racist organizations should be banned in Sweden:
“In the convention against ethnic discrimination, which Sweden has signed, it is clearly stated that racist organizations and their propaganda should not be allowed.”
During the previous Social Democratic government, then Integration Minister Mona Sahlin appointed Professor Masoud Kamali to investigate the issue of discrimination. A number of subsequent reports explained that racism was an integral part of Swedish daily life, determining the actions of journalists, politicians, researchers and employers alike. Kamali wrote:
And according to the editorial pages of the country’s largest newspaper Aftonbladet, racism has “nothing to do with reality”. The paper argued that discriminatory views would not lose ground if immigrants were to improve their position in society.
Immigrants are faced with many challenges in Swedish society, not the least of which are financial. Among first generation immigrants from non-industrialized countries, less than half of the adults are active in the labour market. Immigrants who have employment or run their own businesses typically earn considerably less than native Swedes.
There are many reasons for these problems, such as rigid regulations making it difficult to enter the labour market, the failure of the education system to teach basic Swedish-language skills to newly arrived immigrants, or bureaucracy standing in the way of the expansion of immigrant businesses.
Which is not to say that simple discrimination does not exist. Many immigrants have from time to time faced mistreatment due to their ethnic origin, both in the labour market and elsewhere. However, the issue of racism in Sweden is quite complex. Scientific experiments indeed tell us that racism is not the main problem facing immigrants in the workplace.
It is in fact possible to objectively measure the effect of discrimination in the labour market. This has, for example, been done by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which in 2006 carried out a number of experiments to see how ethnic origin affected the ability to attain a job. The organization examined the employment prospects of fictional characters of Arabic and Swedish descent.
In the first stage of the experiment, employers that had announced vacancies were contacted by telephone and asked if they were interested in having job applications sent in. In the second stage, applications were sent to the employers who had shown an interest, and in the third stage the ILO sent out actors to job interviews.
The objective was to determine how well people from different backgrounds but with the same level of experience and education would perform in the real life labour market. Applications were sent to jobs in the restaurant business requiring few qualifications, since previous research had shown that discrimination was greatest in low-qualified fields of employment. So what were the results?
In the first stage, the researchers found marginal differences in outcome due to ethnic origin. In the third stage, the actors with Arabic origin in fact had better luck attaining jobs during the interviews than the actors of Swedish origin (although too few got as far as an interview for this effect to be statistically significant). The effects of ethnic discriminations were clearly shown only in the second stage, where those with Arabic names had to send away twice as many applications to be called to an interview.
A survey conducted for the paper Dagens Nyheter in 2004 found a similar, but much weaker effect. In this case, individuals with Swedish names had a 15 percent higher chance of getting a positive response when sending in applications compared to those with an Arabic name.
In a third scientific paper, researchers Magnus Carlsson and Dan-Olof Rooth summarize previous research results and their own findings.
They come to the conclusion that discrimination is almost only visible in the steps before a job interview: “Once individuals have been called to an interview they do not face discrimination”.
The researchers note in their own study that applicants with Swedish names must on average seek ten jobs in order to be called to three interviews. Those with Arabic names must apply to on average fifteen jobs to be called to the same number of interviews.
This effect is, according to the researchers, “probably only important if there is a lack of job vacancies advertised”, since immigrants can compensate for discrimination by applying for a greater number of jobs.
So why do peopel with Arabic names have more difficulty finding jobs when applying by letter, but not when on the phone or in an interview? One interpretation is that employers often assume that immigrants on average have less language skills. When job seekers show that they master Swedish on the phone or in a face-to-face conversation, most of the discriminatory effects disappear.
Carlsson and Rooth draw the conclusion that the media is over-selling the case of ethnic discrimination. They write: “In the media, the Swedish labour market is sometimes described as strongly discriminatory and subject to racism. This perspective seems, based on our finding, to be greatly exaggerated.”
The researchers go as far as to note that it can have serious consequences if exaggerations of ethnic discrimination lead to jobseekers with immigrant background choosing to less actively seek jobs or educate themselves. Indeed, it is quite apparent that this effect exists in immigrant neighbourhoods. Many young immigrants become quite disillusioned by media reports regarding racism and discrimination.
When society tells young immigrants that they simply cannot achieve success through work and education, fewer choose to work hard on attaining a good degree or making a career. A negative perspective towards society is created, turning some towards crime and anti-social behaviour.
Racism is a social ill that must be combated and openly discussed. But another social problem is the way in which intellectuals exaggerate the case for racism, misleading many immigrants into believing that success is not a possible for them. It is important to give a nuanced view of discrimination and racism, communicating the obstacles as well as the opportunities to success through work and education in Swedish society.
Spain: Ceuta; Security Strenghtened After Al Qaeda Threats
(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 24 — Ceuta has strengthened “the security measures” on the border which separates the Spanish enclave from Morocco and at the port, due to “the anti-terrorist alarm” which went off after the threats of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Spanish government delegate to the Spanish autonomous city, Jose Fernandez Chacon, told news agency EFE. Chacon referred to the publishing on the Internet of a video in which leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, urges the Muslims in North Africa to unite for the “sacred war” against Spain, France, the United States and their governments. “Ceuta is at alarm level 2,” Cachon underlined, explaining that “threats appear periodically and they must be analysed and evaluated”. The strengthening of the security measures, the government delegate observes, “sometimes could cause inconvenience to the citizens, mainly as regards the volatility of the passages at the port and on the border”. (ANSAmed).
UK: Radical Imam’s Daughter Exposed as Pole Dancer
Radical cleric’s message to Britain after his daughter is exposed as a pole-dancer: ‘You As the daughter of firebrand cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, you might expect Yasmin Fostok to adhere to his fanatical beliefs.
But not for her, the facial veil and burqa covering from head to toe.
Instead, the radical Muslim’s daughter has ditched not only his extreme interpretation of Islam — but also much of her clothing.
For the busty blonde 26-year-old has been uncovered as a topless, tattooed pole dancer.
The young mother has been displaying her ample charms cavorting in cages in pole dancing clubs in London’s West End, and touring as a ‘podium’ dancer with a troupe called Ibiza Untouched.
In front of hundreds of youngsters, the daughter of the preacher of hate — who rants against Western ‘depravity’ — whips clubbers into a frenzy, even working a fire-eating routine into her act.
Yasmin shrugged off the secret life that her father would abhor. ‘I don’t agree with his views — I just get on with my life and that’s it,’ she said.
Perhaps predictably, self-styled sheikh Bakri, now exiled to Lebanon, dismissed the news as a ‘fabrication’ and described it as an attack on him and Islam.
‘The more you put pressure on me, the stronger I become. Islam will conquer Britain.
‘I have not seen my daughter for nine years , but because she is a member of my family people want to make things up about her.
‘You are going to pay a heavy price,’ he warned. ‘You can read it any way you like. The time is now.’
Blonde Yasmin, 27, has changed her name from Youssra and now lives as a single mother with her son in a ground-floor flat in Catford, south east London.
AP Blames Israel for Making Palestinians Want to Destroy it
by Barry Rubin
In an article of September 20, Ali Daraghmeh, “Army says troops kill Palestinian with firebomb,” there is a long discussion of the current state of the peace process.
Let’s be clear: virtually nobody in Israel who is not speaking as an official government spokesman believes that there is any chance that there will be a peace soon with the Palestinians. The great majority of them place most or all the blame on the Palestinians. In addition, most people in political life who would say publicly that there is a chance for peace have the opposite view in private conversations.
These two points, which hold true across the political spectrum except for the far left—doubts about the process and blame on the Palestinians—never appear in coverage. Never, ever. Yet these are the two most important facts about the most over-covered issue in the world. Articles lately will say that the deadline will probably not be met, but present that as sort of an accident or due to Israel’s fault—the fall of the government.
This article, like so many others, gives a lot of space to Palestinian viewpoints and none to Israeli viewpoints. In this case:
“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, warned that time for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is quickly running out.” It then quotes a Mahmoud Abbas op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal blaming, “Israel’s continued settlement expansion and land confiscation in the West Bank makes physical separation of our two peoples increasingly impossible.” Actually both settlement growth and land confiscation (pretty much exclusively for the separation fence and often reversed by Israeli courts) is pretty limited.
Another really long article is dedicated to proving that Israel is destroying any chance for peace, basically serving as a Palestinian propaganda statement. This article, Steven Gutkin, “Palestinians despairing of independence effort, September 20, 2008, basically says that the nice Palestinians really want peace but Israel won’t give it to them. As a result, the frustrated Palestinians may have to resort to violence. Well who could blame them under these conditions, right?
Here’s the lead:
“Prominent Palestinians are lighting a fire under Israel’s feet by proposing a peace in which there would be no separate Palestine and Israel, but a single state with equal rights for all.”
So let’s ask some questions. The Palestinians use the phrase about lighting fires as a code word for terrorist violence, though the American reader will understand it here as sort of, urging Israel to move forward. Is a Palestinian demand for Israel to disappear and millions of Palestinians to be allowed to live there a peace proposal? And does anyone take seriously the idea of equal rights for all, a phrase taken from the U.S. Supreme Court building?
UN: Mideast, Arabs Want Meeting on Settlements
(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 25 — The Arab countries will ask for a UN Security Council session to discuss the issue of the Jewish settlements on the territories where the Palestinians want to build their state, Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, told the journalists yesterday evening in New York on the occasion of the works of the United Nations General Assembly, during a meeting with other counterparts of the Arab countries. “There will be an Arab request for a Security Council meeting to discuss the issue of settlements … as soon as possible, hopefully this week,” he affirmed. The Palestinian negotiators lament that the Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank is undermining the efforts of the international mediators. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said that he and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal will present the request for the meeting of the council on Thursday. (ANSAmed).
Iran: Shipping Firm Nervous About New UN Sanctions
Tehran, 25 Sept. (AKI) — As the United Nations moves to consider fresh sanctions to counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the country’s largest shipping company has already been hit by restrictions.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and its 18 affiliates were included on a list of companies and individuals compiled in Washington two weeks ago for providing logistical support in relation to Iran’s nuclear programme.
A request by France to the United Nations’ Security Council to extend boycotts to other companies could affect the movement of trade and commerce between Iran and the Mediterranean region.
A joint Italian-Iranian venture known as Irital told Adnkronos International (AKI) it had made no changes to its shipping operations “if you exclude falls linked to seasonal falls in the market”.
The company, based in the northern Italian city of Genoa, was created in 1992 by IRISL and Fratelli Cosulich SpA and is the Italian agent for the Iranian company.
But local operators told the Maltese daily, Independent, that they are worried that any extension of sanctions against IRISL would stop them from having commercial relations with the firm, that has a dozen vessels in Maltese ports every week.
Iran’s largest shipping company has told The Financial Times that it is confident it can protect its business from the impact of US sanctions imposed earlier this month.
The company told the London business daily the American allegations were “baseless” and the sanctions were irrelevant because Iran has had no shipping in US waters or assets in the US for three decades.
Mohammad-Hossein Daajmar, director of IRISL, did not rule out some increased costs as a result of the US sanctions but doubted the company would face any any decrease in the volume of transactions.
More than 60 percent of the company’s shipping transactions were with Asian countries, particularly China, he said.
“We are thinking about concentrating on Asian and African markets, and abandoning the west,” told a spokesman for the Iranian Shipping Society to AKI.
“We have already put a number of measures in place to get around these and possible future sanctions,” he said. “Many other Iranian companies, after a period of difficulty, have managed to normalise their commercial relations so they could get around the sanctions without too many problems.”
The IRISL, which claims to be the biggest shipping company in the Middle East, has a fleet of 143 ships and carries about a third of Iran’s imports and exports worth more than 70 billion dollars in 2007.
Further sanctions against Iran were in doubt on Thursday, after Russia pulled out of crucial talks in New York.
Moscow withdrew from the multilateral talks planned for the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly amid tensions with the United States over Russia’s military action in Georgia.
Iran: Singer May be Punished for Singing Koranic Verses
Tehran, 25 Sept. (AKI) — A prominent Iranian singer-songwriter could be punished for using verses of the Koran, Islam’s holy book, in a song.
Mohsen Namjoo, considered by the US daily The New York Times as the ‘Iranian Bob Dylan’, could potentially face a jail sentence or even the death penalty after mixing Persian music with Koranic verses.
Namjoo, a 32-year-old native of Torbate-Jam in northeastern Iran and a former Koranic reciter, said the song was a “simple experiment” and was not meant to be publicised. The song was uploaded on the Internet without his consent and knowledge.
A Koran expert later complained about Namjoo’s song and sent a letter to Tehran’s feared public prosecutor Saiid Mortazavi, known for shutting down hundreds of newspapers and ordering the arrest of hundreds of journalists and Internet bloggers.
More complaints have been filed by several Iranian Islamic organisations, raising fears that Najmoo could be punished have a ‘fatwa’ or religious edict issued against him calling for his death.
“The use of Koranic verses in the context of a song is a big offence, on a par with Salman Rushdie’s book and the Danish cartoon,” said Abbas Mohajerani, an Iranian-born Islamic scholar based in the United Kingdom.
“When the Koran is being read, everyone should remain silent and listen. If there is music playing, then the listener’s attention is largely caught by the music,” he said.
Namjoo is currently on a solo concert tour in the US.
Iran: Jailed Ayatollah Asks Pope to Help Free Him
Tehran, 26 Sept. (AKI) — Iran’s jailed Ayatollah Sayyid Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi has written a letter to Pope Benedict XVI and other religious leaders asking them to help secure his release.
The ayatollah asked the pontiff to “…defend the divine credibility and spiritual sacredness” by asking the Iranian authorities to respect human rights.
The letter was reportedly smuggled out of jail and distributed by the ayatollah’s representative in Europe.
It was also addressed to Israel’s chief rabbi, the grand mufti of al-Azhar and the Saudi ulema of Dar al-Fatwa.
Addressing the Muslim leaders, Kazemeini says that “Political Islam is erasing the word of God and his prophet, Mohammed”, while he asks rabbis to “make the world hear the cry of the Muslims in Iran, in the name of the same God that (we) jointly worship.”
Kazemeini has been jailed since October 2006 with a group of his supporters. They have been accused of anti-constitutional activities and heresy.
Rights group Amnesty International claims that Kazemeini has been tortured for the past two years. He is known to oppose political Islam and the presence of the mullahs and ayatollahs in government and institutions.
Kazemeini has broad support in Iran and before his arrest, thousands of people filled stadiums to hear his sermons.
Iran: ‘Jerusalem Day’ Commemorated in Tehran
Tehran, 26 Sept. (AKI) — Protesters gathered in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Friday to commemorate what Muslims call international ‘al-Quds’ or Jerusalem Day.
The protests are held every year on the last Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramadan to oppose Israel’s control over Jerusalem and to support the Palestinian cause.
The celebrations “…..were initiated by the late Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran Imam Khomeini to voice support for the oppressed Palestinian nation and protest of the Islamic Ummah against Zionist usurpers,” according to the official Iranian news agency Irna.
Protesters chanted slogans such as “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” during the demonstration, reported Irna.
Demonstrators crowded the streets leading to the campus of Tehran University, where Friday prayers were expected to be led by Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the Assembly of Experts.
Al-Quds or ‘the holy one’, is what Muslims call the city of Jerusalem, which is considered Islam’s third holiest site. It is also the place where Jesus Christ was crucified and the city where the Jews holiest temple was located.
Mideast: Damascus Media, Livni Appointment Hard Blow to Peace
(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 25 — If Tzipi Livni becomes Prime Minister of Israel “the road to peace will be compromised”, pro government Syrian daily Tishrin wrote today, adding that Livni, just like some of her predecessors, “prefers violence to politics”. This is the third verbal attack on the Israeli Prime Minister designate in the past days on the part of the pro government media in Damascus which defined her as one of “the best products of Ariel Sharon”, former Israeli Prime Minister and founder in 2005 of the party Kadima. “Livni is the daughter of organised crime,” Tishrin wrote, referring to the parents of the Prime Minister designate, Eitan Livni and Sara Rosenberg, both of whom were members of the Zionist militia Irgun, which operated in British-ruled Palestine between 1931 and 1948 and is considered responsible for dozens of attacks against the local Palestinian population. Irgun later became the core of the right-wing party Likud. “The Israeli always prefer to be led by criminals whose hands are stained with Arab blood,” the Damascus-based newspaper added. (ANSAmed).
The Trouble With Russia
by Barry Rubin
The return of Russian power in the Middle East, next to Iran’s nuclear weapons’ campaign, is the region’s most important new issue. While far less threatening than the Soviet bloc’s Cold War backing for radical Arab states, this development poses some major problems for U.S. leaders, Israeli interests, and Middle East politics.
Between 1956 and 1990, the Soviet Union bestrode the regional stage like a colossus, the alternative model and sponsor that indirectly inspired, armed, and protected the domination of radical Arab nationalist regimes, groups, and ideas. Moscow’s goals were to win the competition with the United States, extend its influence, and gain access to strategic locations and resources.
It’s called power politics, the kind of thing that isn’t supposed to exist in this era where being a community organizer is supposedly the main qualification for being president and no problem is deemed unsolvable if enough concessions or apologies are made to one’s enemy.
Though many in the West seem to have forgotten, ambition, ideology, and realpolitik have not vanished from this world. If one team plays the game like rugby and the other like solitaire, the former has some natural advantages. Or, if you prefer a different metaphor, sort of like a shark facing off against a preening goldfish.
Today, Russia’s ambitions are much diminished. Indeed, while it desperately seeks money, the goal that seems to dominate President Vladimir Putin’s thinking is not so much world domination as a sense of grievance and a desire for respect. Unfortunately, these last two qualities have been shown in the Middle East to be among the most dangerous of all.
Putin’s basic view seems to be that the West humiliated Russia, which gave up the Soviet Union’s sense of purpose, tight discipline, and empire without getting much in return. Russia is demoralized. Moscow is flooded with luxury stores forming a kind of army of occupation. Democracy proved to be messy; poverty has grown (or more accurately, just come to the surface). Throwing out communism brought no rose garden.
Putin responded approvingly to a Russian educator who complained, “In exchange for our disarming ideologically we have received this abstract recipe [from the West]: you become democrats and capitalists and we will control you.”
He views himself as Russia’s savior, ready to employ tough methods for that purpose. Certainly, he doesn’t seek to return to the old days. There’s a much wider margin of freedom, yet journalists who dig too deep end up in a hole in the ground, and industrialists who challenge the regime quickly find themselves facing criminal charges…
Gandhi and Jihad
A good comment from Hugh Fitzgerald:
Gandhi was unacceptably wrong about a number of things — his advice to Jews to mimic Indians in their campaign with the British, and to offer “passive resistance” to Hitler, and if necessary sacrifice themselves, takes the cake, but he was also remarkably ill-informed about the Muslim threat, the deep and permanent threat, to the “wounded civilization” (in Naipaul’s phrase — a civilization “wounded” by the centuries of Muslim rule, its cruelty, its mass murdering). And he certainly gave Muslims the benefit of every doubt.
After Partition, Muslims attacked Hindus, and Hindus fought back. There was an exchange of populations, but many tens of millions of Muslims remained in India, while a few million Hindus remained in West Pakistan (now Pakistan) and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). But because of the constant discrimination against, and persecution of, Hindus (as well as of all other non-Muslims), the percentage of the population of West Pakistan that is now Hindu has dropped from 15% to 1.4%, and from 35% to less than 8%. The much smaller population of Buddhists in Bangladesh has also been persecuted, and of course Christians in both Pakistan and Bangladesh have a terrible time. Meanwhile, in India, the Muslim percentage of the population climbs steadily up, and no Muslims appear to be fleeing India to go to Pakistan or Bangladesh. So there continues to be population movement, but not population exchange. If Hindus (and other non-Muslims) are not to be permanently subject to Muslim terrorism and to Muslim demands, each demand more outrageous than the next, with no sign that Muslims are willing to own up to what is in the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Sira, and own up to the incompatibility of Islam, and what Islam inculcates, with the beliefs, or the legal and political institutions, of Hindus, or Christians, or Jews, or Buddhists, or anyone at all who is non-Muslim and refuses to yield to the Sharia and to dominance by Muslims, then eventually, and inevitably, those such as the Hindus, upon whom war has been made, will react and not stop until they have done to Muslims what Muslims have been doing to them, and pushed many of them into Pakistan and Bangladesh, in mirror image of the Hindus formerly pushed out of those places, during the past half-century since Partition. It is doubtful that in the rest of the world there would be much, or any, sympathy for the Muslims dealt with in this matter. Infidels need not inure themselves, need not endure forever what has become or is becoming an intolerable situation because of the ideology of Islam.
Indonesia: Islamic Parties to Remain Unpopular in 2009, Survey Says
Jakarta, 26 Sept. (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Support for Islamist-based parties is expected to remain low in the 2009 elections as Muslims look set to vote for nationalist political groups promoting better welfare for the public, according to a new survey released on Thursday.
It suggested the political stance of Muslim voters would stay unchanged from previous general elections.
The poll by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) found only 16.6 percent of 1,239 Muslim voters surveyed intended to vote for Islamic parties in the 2009 legislative election.
“Sixty percent of voters would cast their ballots for nationalist parties such as the Golkar Party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Democratic Party,” LSI researcher Dodi Ambardi told a media conference at the launch of the survey.
The survey, conducted from September 8-20, revealed 24.4 percent of respondents were still undecided.
“Islamic parties have never won the majority of votes in Indonesia, and the trend looks set to continue into the 2009 elections,” Dodi said.
There are at least nine Islamic parties contesting the elections, including the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the United Development Party (PPP), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Crescent Star Party (PBB) and the Reform Star Party (PBR).
The survey found the PKS, which won 7.3 percent of votes in the 2004 election, was likely to emerge as the most popular Islamic party, followed by the fractured PKB.
However, only 6 percent of respondents agreed the PKS ran programmes aimed at improving public welfare — much lower than the 15 percent siding with Golkar.
In addition, 76 percent of respondents listed economic and social welfare as their top priority, compared with only 15 percent who prioritised national unity.
Another 8 percent considered law enforcement the crucial issue, and only 0.8 percent put morality and religious affairs at the top of their list.
Dodi said Islamic parties should promote pluralism and economic issues, rather than focus on Islamism, if they wanted to garner more votes.
Data from the LSI shows Islamic parties’ share of the vote has continued to decline since a record share of of votes (43 percent) in the country’s 1955 elections.
Islamic parties took 38 percent of the vote in the 1999 and 2004 elections in Indonesia.
The survey also found the Megawati Soekarnoputri-led PDI-P had the biggest support from Muslim voters, with 19 percent, followed by Golkar with 18 percent.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party was popular with 11 percent of Muslim voters.
PKS official Rozikum agreed Islamic parties needed to promote broader issues touching on public interests to win the hearts of Muslim voters.
“It is our experience that when we try to promote such issues as good governance, we get more support, like in the 2004 elections,” he said.
However, he said the use of the term “Islamic party” in the LSI survey was inaccurate.
“We see many parties, including Golkar, the PDI-P and the Democratic Party, now competing to declare themselves Islamic parties. Their leaders are even more Islamic than us,” he said.
Lawmakers Postpones Debate on Anti-Pornography Bill
Indonesian public opinion is largely happy with lawmakers’ decision to postpone discussion of controversial law. Representatives slam dirty tricks like forged signatures and exclusions from debates meant to favour bill approval.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Indonesia’s House of Representatives has decided to postpone the debate over the anti-pornography bill. Known in Bahasa Indonesia as Undang-undang Pornografi, Uu App, the bill has been very divisive across the country. Yet lawmakers do intend to pass a law that could bring everyone on board before the end of the year.
Public opinion has by and large welcomed the decision. For many Indonesians the bill is a waste of energy which could be better spend in doing something else.
A number of lawmakers have complained that some signatures needed to get a quorum to vote on postponement were forged. Others have said that only those who backed the law were allowed to take part in parliamentary discussions.
“We were once banned from a bill deliberation meeting at the House, whilst parties (supporting the bill) were not,” said Beny Wijayanto from the Women’s Legal Aid Foundation.
The anti-Christian bill is backed by the country’s main Islamist parties like the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), and some radical groups. It is opposed instead by the nationalist Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-P), the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) and the Democratic Party (PD).
At the heart of the dispute lies the bill’s vague definition of “pornography” because could include any form of art like “drawings, sketches, illustrations, photographs, text, sound, moving pictures, animation, cartoons, poetry” as well as clothing.
Critics slam the bill because it would eradicate all cultural differences and threaten national unity. For many it is an attempt by Islamic fundamentalist to introduce Sharia law and turn the country into another Saudi Arabia.
Immigration: Reunion and Asylum, New Rules in Italy
(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 24 — Tighter measures as regards family reunion and the requests for asylum is envisaged by the two legislative decrees approved yesterday by the government. The two provisions is explained here in short. FAMILY REUNION — The decree introduces limitations to the right of reunion of a husband and wife, of children over eighteen and parents. In particular for a husband and wife a minimum age of 18 years and not to be legally separated is required. For children over eighteen it is required that the impossibility to meet the indispensable needs of life depends on objective reasons coming from a condition of total disability. For parents it is required that they do not have children in the country of origin or, if aged over 65, that the other children are unable to pay for their keep due to documented serious health reasons. Moreover, for verification of family relationship it is envisaged that the possibility of DNA tests is paid by the immigrant, when there are doubts on the authenticity of the identity. The cost of the DNA test can vary from approximately 600-900 euro in a public structure to at most 1,500 euro. And in general it rises as much far is the grade of relationship to be verified, the doctors explain. Even if a price reduction is possible in the future with the introduction of new technologies. RECOGNITION AND REVOCATION OF REFUGEE STATUS — The decree envisages that the prefect establishes a place of residence or an area where the applicant for asylum could circulate. The latter has the obligation to appear personally in front of the territorial commission for recognition of the protection, if summoned. Moreover, the effect of suspension to appeal against the decision of rejection of the commission is eliminated. (ANSAmed).
Immigration: EU Okays Sarkozy Pact, Tougher Rules
(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 25 — The 27 EU member states have approved the ‘European Pact on Immigration and Asylum’, launched in June by Nicolas Sarkozy as one of the priorities of the French presidency of the EU. The agreement was reached unanimously by the European Interior ministers and envisages boosting the fight on illegal immigration and tightening of asylum procedures to avoid abuses. The signing is now expected to take place on October 15 when the summit of EU heads of state and government will be held in Brussels. Therefore, the objective of the Elysee to see the pact endorsed by the end of the year has almost been achieved. The 27 EU members have made five major commitments, according to the conclusions of the council of interior ministers. First of all, to organise legal immigration taking into consideration the need and the reception capacity of each member state. Second, to boost the fight on illegal immigration, assuring the immigrants’ return to their countries of origin or to transit countries. Amnesties for illegal immigrants should be considered only for humanitarian reasons, with each case being separately evaluated. Third, to tighten border controls and water patrols. Fourth, to prepare a common asylum procedure, guaranteeing protection to political refugees but strengthening controls over abusive requests. Finally, to create a partnership system between EU member states and the illegal immigrants’ countries of origin. French Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux, who currently presides the council of EU interior ministers, expressed his contentment, stressing that a good balance had been struck between turning Europe into a fortress or a sieve. “The fact that the agreement was unanimous and the pact was approved by a minister such as Maroni, after the same opinion was expressed by his predecessor Amato, shows that neither the differences between states nor the political differences can impede the general accord on an issue such as immigration.” (ANSAmed).
Immigration: European Parliament Against Vote to Immigrants
(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 25 — The plenary session of the European Parliament expressed today its opinion against granting voting rights to immigrants with long-term staying permits in the European and administrative elections. The result was reached thanks to the votes of the right-wing and the support of 27 socialist Euro MPs, who decided to express their opinion against the vote to the immigrants, in opposition with their party’s indications. Among them, there was also Alessandro Battilocchio, of the Italian socialist party, and five Euro MPs from PSOE, the party of Spanish Prime Minister Jose’ Luis Zapatero. The opinion against granting voting rights to immigrants was expressed through the suppression of an article, included in the report on the progress made in the field of justice, freedom and security in the EU, written by Belgian liberal Gerard Deprez, president of the Commission for justice, freedom and security in the European Parliament. The suppressed article was inviting the EU Commission to study the conditions to grant voting rights to immigrants in European and local elections, as a useful tool to improve integration. The amendment to suppress that article was suggested by PPE, the group of the European People’s Party, and approved with 268 votes in favour, 243 against and nine abstentions. The representatives of PPE, the Union of Europe of the Nations (UEN), which includes the League and AN, voted in favour, but the votes of the 27 socialists (and three liberals) who went against their party were decisive. Each member state decides whether to grant or not the vote to immigrants, but the Parliament can supply a political indication, in this case a negative one. (ANSAmed).
Immigration: Italy; Funding for New Identification Centres
(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 24 — Taking into consideration the increase in the arrivals of illegal immigrants in Italy, the government yesterday allotted funds — a total 76 million euro over a three-year period — for the immediate construction of ten new identification and expulsion centres (CIE) in the regions where they are still lacking. This does not seem to be an easy task since various regions have already refused to allow the construction of such centres on their territory. At present the reception system of the Ministry of Interior accommodates 9,500 immigrants, of who only a little more than 3,000 in the official structures (CIE, reception centres for asylum seekers and reception centres). The rest are put up at 44 emergency centres in hotels and state-owned buildings. The decree law (which is operative but still has to be approved within 60 days by the parliament) is accompanied by two legislative decrees regarding reunion and asylum, which will take effect following their publishing in the State Gazette. A third decree, concerning the free movement of EU citizens, has not yet been approved by Brussels. As for the tightening of regulations regarding refugees, Maroni said “it is due to the fact that the increase of arrivals concerns mainly asylum seekers”. “We want to avoid any abuse of asylum requests as a way of remaining in Italy and to establish better control of these people with the prefect who should find accommodation for them.” Finally, as regards reunions, “there is a tightening with the limitation to spouses, children and parents, while health insurance or registration with the national health service is required for those aged above 65”, the minister said. “The objective is to avoid easy reunions only in order to obtain state benefits,” he added. Moreover, “it is established that tacit consent does not apply to asylum requests”, the minister added. Maroni has been strongly criticised by the opposition which claimed that the measures oppose to the Catholic Church’s position on immigration. (ANSAmed).
Immigration: 300 Rescued at Sea; Vatican Attacks Gov’t
(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 24 — In the day when a shipwreck off the coasts of Malta caused numerous victims (ten dead bodies were rescued before the bad weather halted the operations) and when 300 migrants were rescued by a French ship from the FRONTEX mission south of Lampedusa, the Vatican launched a heavy attack against the Italian government’s immigration policies. The harsh comments came from the secretary of the Pontifical Council of Migrants, Monsignor Agostino Marchetto, who said that the government plays a ‘race to the bottom’. While, Monsignor Marchetto said, “in Europe there is an ongoing reflection aimed at achieving a common policy in relation to those asking for asylum and the refugees”, in Italy we see “unfortunately” a race to the bottom as regards the international commitments assumed in favour of the protection of persecuted people, whose human rights have not been respected”. “To me it seems that the last meeting of the council of ministers has preserved this same tendency. The decisions could have been worse, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Could this be a reason to rejoice? I would not say that. In fact, there is a tightening of asylum regulations and the explanations for that are not plausible, although it is true that the mixed flows of asylum seekers and immigrants cause complications for the authorities,” monsignor Marchetto said. A “no” to the measures adopted by the government has come also from Protestants who said they were “deeply worried by the regulations that render more difficult family reunion, which is an indispensable instrument for the complete integration of foreigners in Italy”. As regards the 300 immigrants who were rescued by the crew of the French frigate, there are no people in bad health among them. Those who needed medical care were moved on a patrol boat of the Financial Guard in order to be taken more quickly to the land. There are also women and children among the 300 immigrants intercepted south from the island of Lampedusa. (ANSAmed).
Immigration: Frattini-Maroni, to Implement Accord With Libya
(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 24 — A wish that the agreement between Italy and Libya for joint patrolling in the Libyan territorial waters will be soon reached was expressed yesterday by both Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Interior Minister Roberto Maroni. “We expect that it will be reached,” Frattini said in New York, reminding that on August 30, on the occasion of the summit between Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and Libyan Leader Gaddafi, “the commitment to sign this agreement” as soon as possible “was reaffirmed”, and that Italy is always ready to offer its patrol boats. “I hope that Libya can accept soon the agreement which envisages the sending of six Italian patrol boats with joint Italian Libyan crew to the coasts of the North African country; it would put an end to the landings on Lampedusa,” Maroni, in turn, said during a TV programme. In reference to yesterday’s polemics, “I said that when Libya decides, I hope soon, that the patrol boats can enter finally its territorial waters I would like to be aboard, because it is an important moment for the liberation of Lampedusa from this raging pressure,” Maroni underlined. (ANSAmed).
Immigration: Jesuits, Agreement Italy-Libya Ineffective
(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 23 — The recent agreement signed between Italy and Libya is just a “brilliant commercial operation” with more than dubious social implications, especially for the emigrants, “who are running away from wars and famine”: this is what affirmed the Jesuits on their international monthly magazine ‘Peoples’, on Internet as of October 5. According to the article signed by the editor-in-chief Stefano Femminis, who quoted among other things statements gathered among the refugees and in the Libyan prisons, the authorities of that country are “accomplices in the traffic of immigrants” and the Italian government was wrong to trust Gaddafi so much, “a man who has been in power for 39 years without democratic elections”. The agreement, the article says, arouses “not at all rhetorical” doubts about the future of refugees and illegal immigrants. “The arrivals might continue, simply with higher fees because the dangers will be more”. “Rather than tackling the problem, they want to eliminate it”, the article concludes. The article, titled “The theorem of Benghazi” does not avoid merely political evaluations, remarking that the agreement aroused “the approval of the majority and, practically, the silence of the opposition: the core of the agreement was after all negotiated by Prodìs government”, it adds. “More oil, less illegal immigrants”: thus Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi summarised the deal, on his return from Benghazi, the magazine remarks. “The best quality oil”, the Jesuit magazine writes, quoting again Berlusconi “in exchange for illegal immigrants”, “bad quality goods, products without market, dangerous for the security, even when it is the head of a baby which emerges from the boats”. Among the doubts put forward by the Jesuits on the deal signed in Benghazi on August 30, there is the one about the destiny of those running away from famine and bombs, in the eventuality that the agreement works and “the European fortress manages to lock its borders”. “Wouldn’t it be more constructive to use money and diplomacy to promote peace, democracy and development in the Horn of Africa?”, it asks. Questions “which would have made sense if the intention to deal with the immigrants’ drama was sincere”. “However, instead being solved, the problem is aimed at being removed: the important thing is that illegal immigrants do not arrive here, to overcrowd the reception centres and disturb our consciences. Probably in decades’ time, in a world which hopefully would be much more attentive to the fundamental rights of people (illegal immigrants included) somebody would ask themselves why not other Africans be compensated for what we could do and did not do”. (ANSAmed).
Italy: Over 200 Illegal Immigrants Head for Southern Island
Lampedusa, 26 Sept. (AKI) — The Italian coastguard on Friday intercepted a boat with at least 200 illegal immigrants on board south of the island of Lampedusa.
An Italian navy vessel was reported to be heading for the illegal immigrants’ boat 45 nautical miles from the island to transfer them to Lampedusa, near Sicily.
Earlier on Friday, coastguard officials rescued three illegal immigrants — two Palestinians and an Egyptian — aboard a wooden boat 22 nautical miles from Lampedusa.
All the illegal immigrants will be identified in the island’s holding centre.
During the summer months, the number of illegal immigrants heading for Europe’s Mediterranean countries including Italy, Spain and Malta surges.
Despite patrols of the North African coast coordinated by the European Union’s borders agency Frontex, hundreds of illegal migrants arrive each week aboard people smugglers’ boats in search of a better life in Europe.
UAE: National Identity Endangered
(by Alessandra Antonelli) (ANSAmed) — DUBAI, SEPTEMBER 25 — Overshadowed by the skyscrapers that reinvented the profile of the United Arab Emirates, overwhelmed by massive international immigration, hushed by globalised languages and customs, the Emirates identity is a fragile entity that risks extinction, statistics have warned. The native inhabitants of UAE today represent less than 20% of the population, while foreign manpower stands at 90%, reaching its peak in Dubai, 97%. Forecasts for the future are not comforting either: on the wave of the already announced real estate and tourist development, UAE is expected to be the professional destination for even more millions of people in the next years and estimates see native population reduced to 2% in 2025. The proverbial hospitality of UAE, along with the need for special professionals for the economic take-off and maintenance of the country’s high standards have turned out to be a double-edged weapon capable of causing deadly wounds to the native identity and turning the native population of the seven emirates into a minority. The case of a local prominent personality who was not admitted to a luxury restaurant because he was wearing the traditional white gown (usually worn by the sheikhs as well), disrespectful for the Western tie and jacket dress code, is emblematic of a situation which has changed the demographic balance in the country over the past decade. The pressure of Western influences on local traditions and lifestyle has already assumed such dimensions that sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al Nahyan has declared 2008 a year for study and discussion of the problem. A series of meetings and conferences have been held since the spring. The latest, which took place last week, was a widened assembly of the National Federal Council, the Parliament of UAE, which is working to draft a strategy to protect the Arab Islamic identity of the country. Apparently, what exactly is the Emirates identity is still to be defined, although the Culture Ministry has already issued three guidelines: religion, race and origin. In the meantime, along with a plan for Emiratisation launched in the field of employment, the authorities are preparing regulations and measures to remind their guests that they are in an Arab Islamic country: beginning with a ban on public kisses and scanty clothing in trade centres, as well as arresting those who have sex or drink alcohol on the beach, as were the cases of two foreign couples in the past weeks, one of them already sentenced, the other still awaiting the court’s ruling. The measures also include stiffening of sanctions for open homosexuality, mandatory bilingual menus in restaurants, translation of request forms from English to Arabic. Although Arabic is the official language, the one that is most spoken is Urdu, while the language de facto used daily is English. Along with the growing number of initiatives aimed at introducing and explaining local traditions, ranging from cuisine to religious values, the Education Ministry has proposed school curricula with stronger presence of history and Arabic and the National Federal Council has suggested better coordination of efforts so that, although limited in numbers, the people with Emirates identity remain the recognised and recognisable hosts of the 200 different ethnic groups guests of UAE. (ANSAmed).
Political Asylum for Christian Convert
Italy has granted political asylum to a Nigerian man who was sentenced to death by an Islamic court at home for converting to Christianity.
John O., 33, has been living in Italy since he fled his home in the Niger delta in 2005 after being sentenced to death based on Islam’s Sharia law.
The sentence was handed down for his refusal to succeed his father, an Islamic leader who died in 2003, and to abandon his newfound Christian faith.
A civil court here in this Adriatic port city granted the asylum request after he had seen it turned down twice, once in 2005 and again in 2007.
What is an “Islamophobe?”
By Brigitte Gabriel
For the past five years, I’ve been traveling the world in an effort to inform people about the threat of radical Islam. I have often been accused of “hate speech” and “Islamophobia.” The latest was in an article in the New York Times, where I was described not just as an “Islamophobe,” but a “radical Islamophobe.” This made me question what those terms really mean. What is the difference between “hate speech” and “free speech”? What is “Islamophobia” and who are the true “Islamophobes?”
“Hate speech” verses “free speech” is easy to define. All over the United States, so-called “progressive” individuals and groups berate the USA and Israel and in the process tell outrageous lies about both countries. That’s called “free speech.” When others, including me, tell the truth about the threat of radical Islam, that’s labeled “hate speech” by many of these “progressives.”
But what is “hate speech” and what is “Islamophobia”? When I describe the threat presented by radical Islam, I quote chapter and verse from the Koran and authoritative classical Islamic sources. When I describe the worldwide campaign of Islamist hate indoctrination against the West, and the mind-numbing mass violence committed and glorified by radical Islamists, I am relaying facts that have been published by print and electronic media outlets all over the world. Do some of the facts about Islamist supremism manifest “hatefulness?” Certainly.
However, it’s not my fault that the truth about Islamist supremacist teachings and edicts is that they promote hate. I wish they didn’t. But wishing doesn’t make it so (contrary to the belief of the New York Times). The Koran explicitly tells Muslims to hate (terrorize, subdue, oppress, and slaughter) the unbeliever until Islam is supreme in the world: “Your Lord inspired the angels with the message: ‘I am with you. Give firmness to the Believers. I will terrorize the unbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes.’“ (Koran 8:12)
The Koran explicitly preaches that Christians and Jews are descended from monkeys and apes. In the more than 13 centuries since the emergence of Islam, this strict Islamic dogma has never been abrogated, amended or ameliorated. It is the Koran that is guilty of “hate speech.” I merely am the messenger exposing this hate.
Which brings us to “Islamophobia” and “radical Islamophobes.” According to the dictionary, the suffix “-phobe” comes from the Latin phobos, which means “fearing.” Do I fear radical Islam? You bet. Do any of these locales ring a bell? London subways. Madrid train stations. Bali night clubs. Beslan elementary school. They are all locations of horrendous terrorist atrocities committed by radical Islamists, with scores of civilian fatalities and hundreds maimed. I can name hundreds of other locales, from all over the world. If fearing radical Islamist terror makes me an “Islamophobe,” then I am an “Islamophobe” in its healthiest manifestation. In light of recent history, I submit that it would be (at best) foolhardy to be otherwise.